NextGen created the topic: What will our future look like
No doubt Covid is causing issues for crews with uncertainty of travel and events making many of us stop to consider is it worth taking the big step into solid training but that is only one of the issues to consider when looking to the future.
Add to that we still have the immovable obstacle that is all the SLS rules and barriers to joining and retention. We are seeing less of the Sweeps prepared to undertake the huge task in recruitment of new members and all the follow up work of getting them passed through the SLS Bronze system. These same sweeps once would take multiple crews in each club but possibly because of work, life and family commitments many sweeps have cut way back on the number of crews they look after and we haven't managed to counter this with enough new sweeps. The rowers generally are feeling the pinch of life pressures on their personal time and finally the standard and level of training being achieved by a relatively few of the top crews is in itself possibly another deterrent for crews below that level to even try.
So even if only some of the above is true what we do know is that the trend of crew numbers is downward with no sign of reversal except in small pockets. Many years ago just about every club in Australia had an R&R and Marchpast team and as team numbers started to drop away those in charge at Coach, Club & SLS level continually put their head in the sand and said nothing to see here! We know how that all ended up as both events are now near the bottom of the pile.
Something has to change and pretty quickly if we are to stop the slide in surfboat action. At best it appears surf sport is an annoying little add-on that is tolerated but certainly not being seen as part of the big picture by many within SLS. We have a two class system of membership with special attention being placed on competitors to undertake a specified number of patrol hours that isn't applied to any other club member. Zero value is placed on the extra training undertaken by the athletes in time or resultant rescue capability because they have actually been training in surf to learn and understand it not to mention the high fitness levels.
It would be good to see a discussion of ideas around what the future could look like.